With the rise of networking online, the business world has changed. Fast talkers and silver-tongued devils no longer run the show – nowadays, online communication reigns king when it comes to outreach. With this shift in communication style across businesses and industries, a new set of rules now apply. Whether you’re a job hunting post-graduate or a small business looking for fresh contacts, the rules are the same across the board.
There are a few best practices when networking online, such as changing your communication style and doing your research, as well as some cardinal sins to steer clear of. By staying mindful of the do’s and don’ts of networking online, you can make the most of every LinkedIn message, cold email, and referral proposal that leaves your inbox.
Employ a “Giving” Mentality
In the world of online networking, you need to give before you take. When you’re networking online to generate more leads for your business, try to put yourself in their shoes. If you had a stranger simply asking for your business out of the blue, would you respond? Likely not. Rather than asking for their referral or an appointment off the bat, try offering something first.
If you’re a B2B company looking for new business, you could send a resource, such as a downloadable PDF or guide, that applies to your recipient’s business. Maybe you could offer a complimentary service, such as a free consultation. Anything that offers value and reflects your interest will do. Then, if someone does help you out or give you the time of day, be sure to properly thank them with a LinkedIn recommendation or a simple “Thank You” email.
Change How You Communicate
It’s no secret that we type and talk in very different ways. We talk faster than we type, express more facially than textually, and more easily pick up on tone when we’re speaking face to face. So, as a business owner or marketing professional, you’ll have to change pace when networking online.
Be patient, since responding online takes more time and effort than a phone call or in-person meeting. Try to be concise and deliberate as well, without too much fluff. There’s no point in beating around the bush when your recipient already scrolls through X amount of emails and InMail messages each morning. As for tone, although it’s tougher to convey online, it’s important to get it right. The beauty about networking online is that you can take far more time contemplating the perfect response, so take the time to make the most of your words.
Research Before Reaching
If you’re lead hunting, information is power. No matter your goal when networking online, preparation is key to successful outreach. That’s why researching your prospects and the companies they’re with is essential to making that initial conversation run smoothly. In the digital age of immediate and unlimited information, this step is easier than ever – and advantageous. Your prospect could’ve gone to the same school as you, making it easier to build rapport. Perhaps a prospect has a mutual LinkedIn connection that could provide a referral. Without research, these chances fade out into missed opportunities.
Slow Your Efforts
In other words, stay persistent in your efforts. You may get no responses from potential clients or referral partners on your first few tries, and you’re sure to receive your fair share of “no’s.” Rather than getting discouraged, try to realize that relationship-building takes time. From finding people interested in working with you to nurturing those connections, networking online requires patience and understanding. Just remember – for every “no,” you’re that much closer to the next “yes.”
Rush Your Contacts
Is that new connection or cold email recipient taking days to reply? When networking online, the rules of prompt responses don’t apply. This is because although you might be online, your prospects may not be. For this reason, we suggest being patient with your contacts. Give them some time to respond before following up, and take the opportunity to proofread your messages in case your delivery is off.
Although LinkedIn and other networking platforms are fantastic networking tools for a number of industries, it can be easy to overdo. At the end of the day, LinkedIn is a social media platform that keeps your eyes darting and fingers scrolling. In industries such as sales and marketing which regularly use LinkedIn for networking purposes, it can be easy to fall into the trap of social media entertainment. Send your messages and make the necessary connections, but be wary of that distracting “Home” button at the top of your screen.
As a business owner or marketing professional, networking is integral to advancement, growth, and a more profitable network. The rise of social networking platforms like LinkedIn have changed the landscape of outreach, meaning the rules for communication have changed when networking online. Though by following these steps, you can focus your networking efforts towards genuine relationship building and the lead generation that follows.
If your business needs a hand with growing its online audience or referral network, contact the digital marketing experts at KWSM for assistance.
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